Judges appear ready to reactivate death sentence for marathon bomber

Supreme Court appears poised to restore death penalty for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court appeared ready on Wednesday to restore the death penalty for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

In more than 90 minutes of argument, the court’s six conservative justices seemed likely to adopt the Biden administration’s argument that a federal appeals court mistakenly dismissed Tsarnaev’s death sentence for his role in the attack that killed three people near the marathon finish line in 2013.

The U.S. first appeals court in Boston ruled last year that the trial judge wrongly excluded evidence that might have shown Tsarnaev was deeply influenced by his older brother, Tamerlan, and was in some way sort less responsible for the carnage. The appeals court also criticized the judge for not having sufficiently questioned jurors about their exposure to wide media coverage of the bombing.

The three liberal judges of the court seemed more favorable to Tsarnaev. If the appeal decision is upheld, Tsarnaev would face a new sentencing trial if the administration decides to continue pushing for a death sentence.

Tsarnaev’s guilt in the death of Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Chinese student who graduated from Boston University; Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager from Medford, Massachusetts; and Martin Richard, 8, of Boston, is not in question, only if he is to be sentenced to life or death in prison.

Barrett questioned the “government endgame”, noting that if the administration wins the case, Tsarnaev “would live under a death sentence which the government has no plans to carry out.”

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